• Move beyond "color-blind" – recognize that there are indeed ethnic and cultural differences in learning and teaching styles
  • Make school programs and services relevant and accessible to minority students and families and
  • Address high truancy and dropout rates among minority populations
  • Develop a system to re-integrate adjudicated youth back into the education system
  • Provide opportunities for minority families to have positive interactions with the school.

Dr. Peete provided an urban administrator’s perspective, describing some of the interventions mentioned above which have been implemented in the Phoenix Union School District, and the positive affects they have had on student discipline.

Yolanda Olbarria discussed the latest research on brain development, and its implications for reducing school violence and disruption. She described the limited window of opportunity that exists in the very early (pre-school and early elementary) years for developing certain language and cognitive skills. Ms. Olbarria stressed the importance of early intervention during this crucial period of rapid brain

  development as a means of teaching children prosocial competencies.

Issues for At-Risk Minority Families

This session examined issues of dependency and domestic violence and was presented by a panel including Judge Francisca Cota, Phoenix Municipal Court; Ms. Angela Cause, Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program; Commissioner Penny Willrich, Maricopa County Superior Court; Dr. Michael Bayless, Psychologist; Sue Beastall, Family Therapist, and Ms. Serena Christion, City of Phoenix Assistant Prosecutor.

The panel discussed the specific issues faced by at-risk minority families as they relate to dependency, delinquency, domestic violence, advocacy, and rehabilitation. The audience broke into discussion groups representing advocacy, judiciary, mental health, family therapy, and law

Research and statistics have demonstrated consistently that minority students are disproportionately suspended, expelled, given corporal punishment, and inappropriately placed in special education. This disparate treatment not only robs them of the potential benefits of a good education, but also increases their risk of experiencing other negative outcomes.

  Schools are increasingly turning to suspension and expulsion as a means of control and discipline. By disproportionately disciplining (excluding) minority students, the system effectively creates enforcement to explore what approaches and remedies can be taken at all levels. The groups were given a series of realistic scenarios involving minority clients and asked to discuss different approaches that could be taken with each.

The following article was prepared by Judge Cota for the workshop:

Domestic Violence, Dependency And Delinquency And Over Representation Of Minority Youth In The System, by the Hon. Francisca Cota

Over-representation of Minority youth in the Juvenile Justice System is a problem that cannot be ignored. As the general minority population increases, the disparity in the Juvenile Justice System population will also increase.

There are many factors to be explored when addressing this problem. This discussion addresses three major areas of concern: Domestic Violence, Dependency and Delinquency. The focus is on the impact and approaches that can be taken at all levels of involvement in the Juvenile Justice System.

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